REVIEW: 2015 Cadillac Escalade Platinum

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2015 Cadillac Escalade Platinum

This week, Greg and his son Tim Zyla had time in the 2015 Cadillac Escalade Platinum, which has converted the opinion of at least one member of the family.

Greg’s take:

This week, we’re driving the all-new fourth generation 2015 Cadillac Escalade, built on a new platform in Arlington, Texas, and arriving in ultimate Platinum trim. Featuring a bevy of high-class luxury features, from NAPPA leather to exotic wood trim, few vehicles on the road compare to this outstanding full size SUV.

Priced from $72,970 in rear drive only to $97,940 in top flight 4WD trim, our 4WD tester came in at $94,565 featuring just about every bell and whistle available. Amongst them are heated and cooled two row seating, driver and front passenger massage seats, DVD system for rear passengers, and a spectacular 16 speaker Bose stereo surround system tied to XMSatellite/AM/FM/HD with Bluetooth.

Built for the distinguished consumer who demands not only luxury and safety in one package, the Escalade buyer isn’t afraid to applaud the fact that he or she has chosen a Cadillac. Specifically, Escalade owners don’t particularly care that there may be some antipathy towards their purchase by others and sit fully secure in their feelings of accomplishment. They appreciate the Cadillac heritage and are proud to share that fact.

Simply stated, Cadillac is still the most recognized luxury nameplate worldwide. Modern day Cadillacs have conquered the ability to merge the three demands of today’s luxury consumer, namely superior safety innovation, ultra high performance technology and the pinnacle of luxurious surroundings. Cadillac has done this so well the last 15 years it now competes head-to-head worldwide with luxury icons Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Infiniti, Lexus, Lincoln, Jaguar, Range Rover, BMW and Acura.

Outside, I personally love Escalade’s new design very much. It returns to a boxier profile yet does so by incorporating a special sleekness that doesn’t date the older versions that debuted back in 1999. Highlights include beautifully sculptured LED headlights and a front grille that underscores the new Cadillac badge front and center. Notable is that even thought this is one very big SUV, it doesn’t look as big as it is thanks to the quadrangle design and styling cues front to back, the latter where LED tail lamps emphasize the new motif.

Under the hood sits a 420-horse 6.2-liter V8 hooked to GM’s new eight-speed automatic transmission. With 460 lb. ft. f torque available, towing is a breeze as up to 8,100 lbs. of tow capacity will allow for some serious boat, collector car or thoroughbred horse hauling. The 4WD system is fully automatic, with a locking rear differential part of the package. If you don’t need a 4WD Escalade, no problem as a rear-drive version is just as nice. As for performance, how about zero to 60 MPH in less than six seconds?

Fuel mileage is notable, as EPA estimates find a 17 MPG average thanks to a stout 21 on the highway but just 15 in town. These good highway numbers come thanks to the eight-speed cruising gear and GM’s now perfected variable valve timing, which reduces cylinder combustion from eight to four cylinders on the freeways.

Standard on the Platinum model are premium 22-inch, nine spoke chrome and specially painted wheels that really enhance the Escalade “look.” I was particularly careful when parallel parking as to any possible wheel scrapes as I wouldn’t want the bill to replace one of these special wheels. Yes, they are that impressive.

Inside, you’ll engulf your senses in a wrap of opulence, which your Cadillac dealer is waiting to demonstrate. Add on Escalade’s safety features like adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, collision avoidance, side blind zone warning, rear cross traffic alert, driver awareness package (very neat!) and lane departure warning and you’re operating one of the safest vehicles on the road.

Options on our tester included a $1,695 power step assist which flip down and retract automatically when the doors open and shut. It’s pricey, but most onlookers this week loved them. Another feature noteworthy, and standard on all Escalades, is power fold-flat second and third row seating which open up to allow generous cargo capacity.

Important numbers include a wheelbase of 116 inches, 5,840 lb. curb weight, 7.9 inch ground clearance, 26 gal. fuel tank, maximum 94.2 cu. ft. of cargo space, and up to eight passenger seating arrangement.

In Escalade land, it’s more about image and accomplishment than being discreet…something Cadillac owners have known for decades.

Tim’s take:

For years I have held the rather short-sighted point of view that the majority of high end vehicles, with even higher end price tags were a waste of money. Surely the owners were paying for a brand name, or flashy looks, or – something – but it couldn’t have been performance or even comfort. Cadillac has officially proven me wrong.

At face value, Escalade performs exactly as you would expect for an oversized SUV. Its 420-horsepower V8 engine provides more than enough torque to handle inclines, while also doling out enough power to get the attention of speed freaks. Ride quality is top notch for a three ton vehicle, as would be expected from a Cadillac product, but all in all, from a performance standpoint, Escalade doesn’t have much more to offer over like sized competitors at a huge increase in cost, especially with the Platinum option package.

But the Platnium package is by no means a performance upgrade – it’s a luxury upgrade – and after a long day at the office, this is the vehicle we want to be driving home, and here’s why.

Walking up to Escalade is daunting, as the vehicle towers over even the tallest of drivers and occupants. Yes, it’s big, and yes, it takes quite a step up to get inside. Open the door and hidden side steps automatically extend with lights illuminating them. “Okay, Cadillac has that covered,” we think.

As most have experienced, a 12-hour day at the office is generally accompanied by a sore back. Escalade’s super adjustable seats with 18 different segments to program has you covered. If that’s not enough, why not try one of three different massage modes that is sure to release some tension on the trip home.

As tempting as it was to just sit inside the car and fall asleep in the parking lot, we begin our trek home during the very early hours, with no moonlight in sight. Active Cruise Control is the first switch we activate on the steering wheel. The Caddy now stays a set distance behind vehicles automatically, taking any pedal work out of the equation for the next 30 minutes of our trip. We catch up to a car in front of us, and Escalade applies the brakes and stays a safe distance behind. It’s a great time to be able to stretch our legs.

As we head out of town and the street lights disappear, the vehicle in front of us turns onto a side street. Escalade automatically activates the vehicle’s high beam headlights after it recognizes there are no longer a set of brake lights in front of us or an oncoming set of headlights in the other lane.

So, with cruise control set to 60, our feet having to do absolutely no work given nearly any situation, the vehicle’s headlights automatically actuating and receiving a massage. We hold the steering wheel with one hand and keep Escalade between the lines, as it’s our only responsibility.

Five minutes later the massage is becoming extremely relaxing, and dare we say sedating. That’s not good, we’re driving a 3-ton vehicle. Wait a second – wasn’t one of the massage options “anti-fatigue”? Yes, Cadillac has that covered as well.

We finally arrive at the destination, almost unwilling and hesitant to exit the car. The door opens, and the side steps extend. We’re done for tonight.

Somewhere during that 30 minute drive I recognized the value in what that extra $30,000 gets you. It’s certainly not an experience that everyone seeks, but for those that do, Escalate Platnium edition deserves a test drive.

I consider myself a car guy who enjoys a “drivers” vehicle, and Escalade is far from that. There is a definite disconnect from the road, and in fact, it’s designed that way. The isolation is very much a part of it’s luxurious allure. Up until this point, I never understood why someone would want those qualities in a vehicle – but now I do.

Entry Price: $72,970
Price as Tested: $94,565


New design

Interior opulence

Power to spare


Small cargo behind third seat

Vehicle mass demands more driver concentration

City MPG

Greg Zyla

Greg Zyla

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